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Monday, 20 July
Let's All Go The Prejudgment . . .

I LOVE YOU, CLIMATE CHANGE! This has been the most stupendously ridiculous Seattle summer since the year I first moved here in 1992, where there was a tremendous drought. Day after joyous day of no rain and plenty of griping pale people! It's glorious. Usually we get like two weeks in August of decent heat, and the rest of it is spotty nonsense where you can never tell if some wan sunshine is suddenly going to give way to a hellish trout rain or some fucking thing. But I could get used to this. We're even starting to get reliable snowfalls in the winter, which of course shuts down this poor city, and everyone yells HEY CLEAR THE ROADS YOU ASSHOLES at the city, and I'm like, What, you want to go to work?

Fuck, I went out and bought a whole bunch of screaming two-stroke engines and have them running 24/7 out on the sun-blasted patio. My neighbors scream at me about them--I assume they are applauding my efforts to continue to ruin the environment and preserve this glorious ongoing atmospheric clusterfuck--but I cannot hear them over the din, so I can't be sure. I blandly wave at them while they make complicated arm gestures at me, and I grin happily.

And with improbably fuck-nuts summers come predictably babble-mad summer movies! Let's see what's on the docket. As usual, I have seen none of these movies, nor do I intend to, but I probably will, because of Comcast's siren song.

G-Force

Sometimes I feel sorry for parents, where "sometimes" = "constantly." This is a movie that actually advertises the fact that Jerry Bruckheimer is behind it, which is a lot like trying to promote your new line of Ed Gein lampshades. This is directed by the legendary Hoyt Yeatman--a visual effects guy with no prior directing experience--and his talents are being employed here to lend 3-D effects to what everyone thinks of when the topic of 3-D comes up: guinea pigs.

Sorry, moms and dads. The rest of us will simply consider this Hollywood's continuing efforts to provide us with visual birth control.

"I hate condoms."

"Listen, do you want to find yourself one day watching a 3-D guinea pig spy movie?"

"I, uh, I'll go to the store; back in five."

The Ugly Truth

IMDB plot synopsis synopsis (abbreviated on the home page thusly):

"A romantically challenged morning show producer (Heigl) is reluctantly embroiled in a series of outrageous..."

I defy anyone to give me any good reason to keep reading or thinking about or acknowledging this movie. Anyone?

[Silence.]

Well, there you go. Incidentally, those of you who watch movies like this? And therefore encourage their creation? Could you please fucking stop? Seriously, I'll blow a lonely zoo tiger for everyone who swears off this shit.

Orphan

Hey, looks like another entry in the "little girls with dark hair are terrifying" genre! Hollywood really is just delusional. Every sane adult knows that little blond girls named Dakota Fanning are the most terrifying filmic entities ever thrust into an unsuspecting public's collective face.

I mean, you all saw--to pick only one out of untold millions of films where Fanning spreads her reign of terror--Spielberg's War of the Worlds remake, right? Where we all desperately rooted for the Martians to blast Dakota Fanning into oblivion if only to stop her incessant screaming, but then Tim Robbins showed up and ate the entire set? And Spielberg kind of went, "Hey, where's all our stuff? That cost $100 million!" And the audience went, "Why, why didn't he eat Dakota Fanning? Won't somebody? Cruise has the teeth for it, even if she is kind of gristly."

But he didn't. So thanks for fucking nothing, Robbins. Now we'll have to wait until 2010, where Dakota Fanning stars in The Fanning, a taut thriller about a young, needle-voiced blonde girl who collects antique fans and sits and fans herself for two hours while receiving blood transfusions in a desperate directorial attempt to make her actually appear in color on film, but to no avail,andt she keeps on fanning her numinous Dakotian self, ceaselessly, while countless exsanguinated children die in a growing pile at her side, and then Tim Robbins eats everything in the universe, and Dakota Fanning screams into the gaping void. I think it's a Werner Herzog film.

Funny People

Hey, it's Judd Apatow! I wondered what he'd been up to. It's been almost half an hour.

Look, I love The 40 Year Old Virgin. I own it. Superbad and Pineapple Express are much, much less beloved to me, as they begin to exhibit a certain disease that afflicts directors who become popular and celebrities in their own right: a refusal to edit. Both of those latter movies wear out their welcome well before the endings, and begin to display an unwelcome attitude towards young asshole males: that they are inherently funny. (Jonah Hill's character in Superbad is emblematic of this; Pineapple Express is excruciatingly long.) (Oh, and Knocked Up is a chickenshit drag that's even more cowardly than Juno.)

It's hard to say what Apatow's up to here. It looks like a comedy with "heart," which is a nearly chilling idea in most hands, but 40 Year Old Virgin, at its core, pulls it off, mainly thanks to Steve Carell and Catherine Keener, particularly the latter, who is unfailingly great.

But there is cause for worry. There is always the troubling presence of Adam Sandler, but then again, he's shown that he is not always completely useless with an actual directorial presence, a la Punch-Drunk Love. There's also the troubling inclusion of--and I find this truly mystifying--Eric Bana, a mostly faceless actor who has, as far as I can recall, never displayed anything resembling a sense of humor ever. I'm happy to be proven wrong, but the man just strikes me as dry wheat bread.

And there's one other thing that should give everyone pause. It is this, again from IMDB's cast list:

Andy Dick ... Himself

Now I question the entire marketing campaign. This might be a horror movie after all. Do you think they got Dakota Fanning to do an uncredited scene with Andy Dick? The screaming will never stop! Until Tim Robbins shows up and eats the multiverse.

Tuesday, 07 July
Patriot Acts

As usual, the Fourth of July provided unbridled patriotism at every turn, provided that your definition of "patriotism" includes words such as "Dionysian" and "gut-wrecking." We showed up at Will and Julea's barbecue fest armed with a package of hot dogs and some buns. AMERICA! They never even found the grill.

"We've got so much fucking potato salad," said Will, throwing a longing glance at the already-groaning table. Will eats as if someone was going to chop off his feet if he didn't clean his plate. Naturally, he also has the metabolism of a starved moth, and his girlfriend--who also loves her food--is something like five-two and should be wearing a decal that says "Actual Size Shown."

Presently, more guests arrived, all of them hauling ridiculous quantities of food; it was, by the climax of the evening, something like a UN humanitarian project, assuming the UN is in the habit of airlifting pallets laden with Doritos and barbecue sauce to Somalia, which, of course, I assume they are. One-hitters were passed around, giving the evening a vaguely key party-ish feeling. Well, not really. Our friends are not skeevy. However, once that thought had taken root, I was unable to prevent myself from thinking about the effects of barbecue sauce on vaginal pH levels, and so I kept a sharp eye on the wife.

A couple of asshole kids walking by the place set off some firecrackers. Minutes later, a couple of cops ambled up to the gate.

"You know, there are a lot of cops down here," one of them said amiably. Will and Julea live down by the water, real close to where the official pyro show is shown; the cops were a real presence by design. "So if you guys have any illegal fireworks, I'd think twice about setting them off."

"It wasn't us!" cried somebody. "It was a couple kids walking by!" While this was true, it was also cutting zero ice with the cops. They just gave us their best Scooby-Doo police chief hairy eyes. This, while uncomfortable, turned out to actually be really fortunate, since party guest Tony chose this exact moment to emerge from the house utterly laden with illegal fireworks. The cops didn't see him pale and beat a hasty retreat into the back yard, where he likely frantially crammed all his illicit booty directly up his ass.

Later, after we had all stuffed ourselves stupid and the remaining food had succumbed to gravitational strain and sunk to the center of the Earth and disrupted tectonic activity everywhere, we went across the street to watch the fireworks. We lifted our faces to the night sky and beheld magnesium hellfire painted across the face of the world!

Fireworks are fucking boring as hell. Every year I stand there, po-faced and arms crossed, staring at the same old god damn fucking smiley faces and Tina Turner hair displays.

This year, we got narration in the form of the two shaved apes behind us, who happened to be semi-crashers to Will and Julea's party. They were friends of some friends. They treated us to a running commentary.

Some bored, alcoholic pyrotechnician managed to figure out how to explode heavy metals so that they displayed a cube shape.

"Square pegs!" cried one of the apes. "Dick in a box!" cried the other. They laughed raucously, and I felt myself tensing.

More enervating displays followed. Some of them looked like other things, which seemed to excite people. "Hey, that's a heart!" screamed our pals. "It's giving me a heart-on!"

The wife turned to me and actually said, "Want to go back and find the bottle of Rebel Yell?" This sentence has never actually been posed to me before, but I immediately assented. Unfortunately, some other lunatic had already drained the bottle of Rebel Yell, and so we contented ourselves with the dregs of a rum bottle, but at least we had made our escape from the Gehenna of fireworks-watching and its attendant narration. Then Will walked out of the house.

"You guys left too, huh?" he said.

"Yeah. I fucking hate fireworks. Plus, we were trapped with a couple of douchebags who couldn't shut the fuck up."

"I just didn't like the tension," said Will, which I didn't quite understand, but I mentally categorized the statement as "I hate fireworks too," just for my own ease.

Naturally, minutes later, when the show was over, everyone returned. Including the two assholes. We were standing in the back yard, gathered around a lovely chimenea fire, just kind of everyone all relaxing, sensing the evening was drawing to a close. It was nice; just friends basking in the warmth of fire and friendship.

"This one time, I glued a chick's hair to her pillow with my come," said one of the assholes, virtually apropos of nothing, as if "apropos" even belongs in the same sentence with, well, anything his neurons were capable of generating. There was a glacial silence as we stared at the mammal making these honking, vaguely human-like noises. It was like watching some early chordate try out his vocal anatomy. He continued to make noises with his mouth, but Will, the wife and myself chose this moment to simply turn around and walk in any direction that might take us away from the sound of his voice. Others soon joined us, gathering joylessly in the front yard, flicking our eyes at each other, silently communicating: "I didn't imagine that, did I? That really happened?" We hung our heads as we heard more goatish laughter floating to us from the back yard, and we shuddered as we imagined what could possibly be said this time to the people who were too uncomfortable to just leave.

We eventually left, spent and emotionally damaged, and really totally fucking full of food. Those guys were still there when we left. Will has sworn to the Elder Gods that they will never darken his door again. Then he ate a gallon of potato salad and farted himself to sleep.

AMERICA!










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